Layne Westover (Father) is formerly an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Kyushu in Fukuoka, Japan. He received his PhD in entomology at the University of Missouri. His experience in beekeeping is based on having made “every mistake that one can possibly make.” He has kept Langstroth and Top Bar hives in the United States. He has kept hives of native Japanese bees (Apis cerana japonica) while living in Japan. He currently lives in College Station, TX. His “natural” beekeeping techniques include the use of small-cell foundation.

Arthur Westover (Son) is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX. After years of tagging along and watching his father, he decided to start his own beehive in 2007. He is currently taking a break from keeping bees, having donated all his hives to Layne and Gerrit. Twitter: @arthurwestover

Gerrit Westover (Son) is partners with his father Layne. They are working on expanding the number of hives in their operation through nuc formation and queen grafting, hive splits, swarm collection, and cutouts in the community. He lives in College Station, TX.

11 Responses to About

  1. David Woods says:

    Professor Westover,

    My name is David Woods and I’m a Canadian living in Ise City, Mie Prefecture. I stumbled across your website this evening.

    I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. Tomorrow I will be constructing some hives for the purpose of luring and keeping Japanese honey bees. Do you know if lemon grass oil works well for Japanese bees, or if it would be better to stick with wax and Kinryouhen? Also, does the wax necessarily have to be from Japanese bees, or would that from the European variety suffice?

    I’m sure you are very busy, but if you could drop me a line I would be very grateful .

    David Woods

    • ljwestover says:

      David, thanks for your comment and questions. I can’t say that I have a definitive answer to every question, but I have opinions based on experience, what I’ve read, and talking to people who keep Japanese honey bees. As far as whether the composition of the wax of Japanese honey bees is different or the same as for European honey bees, I wondered the same thing myself, and I do not remember reading about that. My opinion is that if they are not the same, then they are very similar. I hear that at various times of the year, there is robbing going on between the two species, so they must have some mutual attraction as far as honey and smell. The Japanese honey has a higher moisture content than that produced by the EHB and ferments more easily. Japanese honey bees do not use propolis either. If I could get beeswax from Japanese honey bees I would use that, but if not, then I would use what I have if it is EHB beeswax. The kinryohen (in bloom, of course) I hear is the number 1 attractant, along with wax. A retired professor I just spoke with is keeping JHB and attracted a swarm into a hive using kinryohen this past year nearby in Ito. Of course, if a colony of bees have previously occupied the hive, it will have the right smell. The next issue is location. The hive should be located in a shady place and up off the ground if possible. I have heard that east-facing is good, and under the shade of trees. Most wild colonies make their nests in hollow trees, but they can also nest in many other places, including in cemetery monuments. My best advice is that if you place it in an area known to have had nests or swarms in the past that your chances of attracting a swarm will be greater. The kinryohen does not attract EHB, but seems to be the best attractant for the native Japanese honey bees. I hope this is helpful. I am in the same position as you are right now, trying to attract some into my hives, since my colonies absconded last summer. Good luck.

  2. anwestover says:

    He gets response notifications as well, but I will make sure my father sees this and gets back to you.

  3. David Woods says:

    Thank-you [both!] very much for your response. I got my boxes about 75% completed today — should be ready by this weekend.

    • Michael Richardson says:

      I’m an American living in Hiroshima prefecture, very interested in beekeeping and looking forward to getting as much information from this site as I can. I would love to hear from anyone about how to get a box (or a few) and get the process started this spring. Cheers…

      • Layne Westover says:

        The best way I can recommend for you to get started is to look at the Youtube videos posted by Mituro36, and to read the information on his website. He has the most comprehensive information in English about keeping Japanese honey bees (you can choose either English or Japanese on his website.) Of course you are welcome to ask questions here too and read what I post, and I will be posting information about what I do and what worked and did not work for me. Good luck.

  4. Hasan Sanusi says:

    Peace be upon you Professor Westover, greeting from Malaysia.
    I enjoyed reading your blog. I’m a beekeeper myself, but still newbie. started Dec last year. few Cerana Indica hives passed down from my dad. 3 hives of Mellifera bought last month. just as a collection, but may go on big scale if possible.
    I’m hoping your shared knowledge on Cerana Japonica applicable to the Cerana Indica.
    already up to your March 2013 post.

    best regards
    Hasan Sanusi

  5. David Woods says:

    Professor Westover,

    On May 21 I succeeded in catching a small swarm of Japanese honey bees. I used Japanese beeswax and Kinryohen for lure, the latter being truly magical! My swarm is still in the hive and their comb is growing steadily. Yesterday, I went to check on them. When I popped the lid open, I noticed that the bees had some visitors — crickets! I only saw 2 of them, and the bees didn’t seem bothered by them them at all. Do you know anything about crickets and bees, by any chance? I’m reluctant to disturb the bees in order to get the crickets out, but I suppose I might have to do something.

    Any thoughts?


    David Woods
    Ise City, Mie Prefecture, Japan

    • Layne Westover says:

      If I were you I would not do anything about the crickets and would not worry about them. Insects like that come and go and if the bees are healthy and strong, they will not be hurt or bothered by crickets or other insects. The bees will protect their territory if they need to. Many species of arthropods are known to inhabit beehives just as part of the natural ecology. You trying to get rid of them has a far greater potential to cause problems in my opinion.

    • Layne Westover says:

      Congratulations of getting a swarm of native honeybees. Where and how did you get your kinryohen?

      • David Woods says:

        Thanks for your advice. Other people have also said that crickets aren’t an issue. Best leave well enough alone.

        Getting the kinryouhen was a good stroke of luck. One of my hobbies is Geocaching. In the early spring I befriended a fellow Geocacher who lives way down south in Mie Prefecture via Facebook. I was looking through his pictures one day and spotted some hives so I asked him a few questions. He suggested that kinryouhen would increase my chances of catching a swarm quite a lot, so I asked him where I could buy one since they don’t seem to be common in stores. He informed me that, long ago, beekeepers’ mentors would give them a plant to get them started. He then kindly offered me one if I was willing to drive down and get it.

        Anyway, I met the fellow and recieved a really big plant in a large, heavy pot. It was just beginning to flower. At first I tried cutting the flowers at the base of the stem and placing them in small jars by my hive. Bees came very quickly, but not in great numbers. I finally put the whole plant next to the hive, covered with netting to spare the flowers and leaves from damage. After a couple of days, my swarm arrived and I got the bulk of them into the hive. Several bees were still on the netting here and there, so I left them to make their own way in.

        The following evening they’d all gone inside with the exception of about 15 which had managed to get inside the netting. Of these, 5 were dead (stuck in the netting –must use finer weave next time); two groups of five were attached to flowers in ball formations. No amount of shaking would get them off so I plucked the flowers at the stems and put them by the hive. I even dropped one accidentally and the bees didn’t let go. It was like they were on drugs. Very interesting plant, this one.

        Last weekend I decided to divide and re-pot the kinryouken. I got three plants out of it. They haven’t died yet, so I guess I did it alright. Interestingly, ants also really kinryouhen. Thankfully I re-potted outside and not on my veranda as I had originally planned. Hundreds of ants had made their home amongst the roots!

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